Immigration: The Case of the Elusive Euphemism

When he filled out the application forms for U.S. citizenship in 1963, Canadian-born Clive M. Boutilier, 32, reported that he had once been arrested for a homosexual act, but the charges were dismissed. Pressed for more details, the Manhattan building-maintenance man, who had been living in the U.S. for eight years, revealed his assorted relations with both sexes since the age of 14. As a result, Boutilier was ordered deported. Reason: the 1952 Immigration Act bars any alien with a "psychopathic personality."

Using psychiatrists' statements that he has no such thing, Boutilier took his case to the U.S. Court of...